By TCN News
New Delhi: A convention on ‘Repeal AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act)’ organised on November 1, in Delhi on the eve of Irom Sharmila completing 15 years of her hunger strike demanded putting AFSPA in the list of political priorities.
The convention was attended by various eminent speakers, including Neingulo Krom, Secretary General, Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights, Babloo Loitongbam, human rights activist from Manipur, Swami Agnivesh, Prof Nandini Sundar, Prof Deepti Priya Mehrotra, Ashok Agrawaal and others. Youths and other activists also attended the convention in large numbers and extended their support towards the cause.
This convention was organised by the Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), Students Islamic Organisation (SIO), Bonded Labour Liberation Front, Just Peace Foundation (JPF), Forum Asia and Human Rights Alert. Those who participated also signed sheets to endorse the demand of Repeal AFSPA from all regions (North east and J&K) and release of Irom Sharmila. Sharmila has been on fast as a form of protest since 2000 when she was about 28 years old. She started the fast just after Malom massacre, when Assam rifles killed local civilians, who were waiting at a bus stand in Malom, Imphal (Manipur). Irom decided to register her protest because incidents of torture and killings were common in Manipur and in the veil of the powers under AFSPA, nothing could be done against culprit security personnel.
After Sharmila did not leave her fast, Manipur police registered a case against her under section 309 of ‘attempt to suicide’ and put her in jail. Presently, Irom Sharmila is under arrest by Manipur police and living her life in security ward of JLN hospital of Manipur. But despite her fast for the last 15 years and government’s ignorance, she has faith in democracy and believes the government will listen one day.
Krome of NPMHR said AFSPA is a violation of human rights and. “If India is truly a democratic country then this Act should be removed immediately. He also described about cases that are before Supreme Court against human rights violations,” he added.
Babloo Loitongbam, a human rights activist from Manipur emphasised that this law has no place in a democratic country like India. This process needs to stop because it violates democracy to its core. He also said that we need to move our struggle in such a way that we should be able to celebrate Irom Sharmila’s victory in her struggle and even if Govt of India accepts her demand, it will be a victory of govt itself as it will send a message that govt respects human rights.
Swami Agnivesh extended his support to the youth of this country in the struggle to repeal AFSPA from J&K and the North Eastern states of India. He also said that it is painful to see that religious groups raise voice when something happen to any member of their religion, but choose to remain silent upon such issues
Prof Sanjoy Hazarika described this as a struggle of 15 years for Irom Sharmila, 10 years of Jeevan Reddy Committee and many others and therefore we must see that something is happening about which we all need to be concerned upon.
The session was concluded by Ravi Nitesh who said that he has seen a lot of change in these fifteen years. Earlier only the North East people were fighting for it but now more and more people from all over the country are standing up in support of Irom Sharmila.
The convention concluded with the announcement that the demand to repeal AFSPA is a collective struggle and demand that is very much required to protect human rights as well as democratic values. It was announced that this full week is being observed in solidarity with 15 years of struggle of Irom Sharmila nationwide and at many places protests are happening. It was also told that in coming months, this movement will bring more voices together and will start a big movement to demand an end to AFSPA.